Feeling High Maintenance

Over the past few days, I decided to DO ALL OF THE THINGS to “fix” some wonky issues that creeped up on me over the past week or two. My workouts haven’t been feeling all that great lately and while a lot of that is probably mental, there are a few twinges that made me think more about what I can do to prevent them from becoming bigger problems.

The left side is the weak side. It’s been that way for awhile. Last fall, after Twin Cities my left hip started to ache even when I wasn’t running and it got to the point where even sleeping on my left side was uncomfortable (initial sign of injury!). After 5-6 physical therapy sessions and a plan to keep the hips strong moving forward, I felt like I nipped it in the bud. All set for a strong training cycle before Boston. And despite just a few days when I felt like I pushed the left hip too much, I felt great leading up to Boston.

Fast forward to the past few weeks. Again, training is going well. I’m hitting paces and I know I’m getting stronger but I’m not feeling the way I’d like to at this point in training. This past Friday, I started to feel a twinge in my left IT band. I’ve never had an issue with it and, ideally, the hip strengthening exercises I  do should be helping to prevent injury. Beyond the IT band, I know my gluteus medius on both sides has been more sore than I’d like after hard efforts and long runs (because it felt the same way it had last fall).

Sure, a certain amount of stretching, foam rolling, and Trigger Point can take care of those little muscles that need extra attention. And I’ve been paying attention to them. But last Friday’s easy 4-mile shakeout was not fun. I ran it on the treadmill because I was too lazy to deal withs swirly winds that evening and I just felt like my left side was “off”. I felt a bit lopsided. I ran a very conservative easy pace and decided to just get it done, foam roll a bit that night, hydrate and hope that it would be okay for the long run the next morning.

Saturday’s run was 17 miles with the last 3 at tempo pace. Just like Friday’s shakeout, I got it done. I hit the paces I needed to and the last three were much faster than prescribed (I felt strong). I celebrated for a bit, but I would have celebrated more if it the run has just been more FUN. My left quad felt wonky on either side basically the entire time & I felt my adductor (inner thigh) straining more than I ever have before.

I already had a massage scheduled and thought to myself on Saturday afternoon, “Don’t worry. I’ll feel much better once I see the massage therapist”. Welp, I woke up to a voicemail from my massage therapist saying my normal appointment had been cancelled because there were plumbing issues at their location. DERP! I decided to book a sports massage and spend the extra money just to get the bodywork done at Cortiva Institute downtown. It’s a massage therapy school but you can also book with licensed therapists. I booked a 60 minute sports massage with Carolyn.

And I’m so glad I did. I had a great experience and I’m seriously thinking about switching therapists because of it. Carolyn worked on muscles that I’ve apparently been neglecting and ones that I didn’t even know were sore or tender in the first place. 60 minutes later and I felt much better.

But it doesn’t stop there.

I’ve always been interested in seeing a chiropractor. I haven’t had any major back problems in the past but I carry a LOT of tension in my upper back, shoulders, and neck on a regular basis, which isn’t necessarily tied to marathon training but working at a computer all day long. A friend referred me to her chiropractor and I went for my first appointment this morning. And let me tell you, beginning the week with an adjustment (AKA SNAP CRACKLE POP!) was a fantastic idea. The adjustment literally took all of 30-45 seconds in several different positions but I did not realize how much tension I was carrying. The chiropractor said that my left hip is 3/4 inch higher than my right and that I’m essentially running with a flat tire (which is appropriate because that’s exactly what it feels like when it’s really fatigued). She also said that it’s higher because of tight muscles, so it’s not anatomical. …Which meant that I received a 30 minute massage therapy treatment right after my chiro adjustment.

I was laying there before my mini-massage thinking, “when the heck did I become a high maintenance runner?!” and “why does my body seem broken all of a sudden?!“. 2 massages, a chiro adjustment, foam rolling, stretching, and tons of water in essentially 2 days seems really aggressive to me, but we’ll see how it pans out during this week’s training. I know that this kind of pain didn’t just magically show up. It had to have been building for awhile. When the chiro asked me what level of pain I’m experiencing on a scale of 1 to 10 and I said simply, “3” she told me she’d go ahead and equate that to a 7 or 8 because I’m a marathoner. Legitimate.

I also feel like I’ve been fighting a cold for 10 days now. Last week I had a bit of a sore throat, but now my energy level seems low, so I’ve increased my iron and vitamin D supplements to see if that helps at all over the next few weeks. It’s been years since I had a blood test so I’m also going to do that this week (you know, because I haven’t been concentrating on my health at all lately. Heh.) Rule #1: Pay for your health, right? 

5 weeks out from Grand Rapids and I’m hoping these little things make a big difference in how I’m feeling going into taper.

Have you ever gone to a chiropractor? Are your hips uneven like mine? Do you need someone to massage your butt for hours just like I do? (If so, please share your stories.) 

– J

8 thoughts on “Feeling High Maintenance

  1. Rachelz says:

    I just started reading your blog and I really like it! I was seeing PT’s for a long time related to SI, hip, and piriformis issues, and then switched to a chiro guy last winter. It has made all of the difference. They do chiro stuff plus mini massages for me and it has kept me in great running shape. I always feel it in my “butt” when I’m fatigued, more on my right than my left, and I’ve kinda just accepted that thats just me!

  2. KrisLawrence says:

    I’ve never been to a chiropractor and so I am glad you shared your experience. I have been a bit curious about then. My hips are definitely not the same height. I can see that in about 50% of my race photos. I have to stay very diligent about rolling and stretching (things I’ve HATED) doing in the past. I hope you get all these little wonky niggles gone quickly.

  3. Xaarlin says:

    I wouldn’t necessarily say you’re high maintenance… But perhaps instead realizing that to keep having all the awesome running gains that you’ve had these past few years, you need to fix the misaligned parts. It’s good to hear you’re feeling better post chiro and massage. I might have to look into the chiro soon. I’m just scared at what I might hear is wrong with me. Haha

  4. Betsy Bernstein says:

    Came across your blog recently and really loving reading about your running! And though I’m sorry you’re having issues, reading this makes me feel better as I sit here after 4 PT sessions, and dry needling tonight, because my left hip has been really bothering me. I’m training for my first marathon and feeling silly to be going to PT twice a week, but realizing that that may just be part of the deal (slash I need to strengthen my butt and hips.) Hope all of the experimenting with different solutions helps!

  5. Chuck Barthelme (@Chucko78) says:

    I’ve seen a chiropractor off and on since I was in junior high school. One of my legs is longer than the other, and I have a deformity in my lower back which means my last vertebra is fused to my hip, so it only flexes on one side. (Which made my short career as a intermediate hurdler quite short). Once in junior high, and another time a few years ago I jarred my back badly, requiring the adjustments and deep tissue massages to even be able to walk without pain. Both of those times I think I spent about 2-3 months visiting the chiro every week to 2 weeks. These days, I try to only go when I’m in serious pain, given that trips to the chiro aren’t fully covered by insurance, and I’m not interested in being one of those people who goes every week for the rest of my life. I’ve seen huge gains just from upper body strength training, including a lot of work on core. I do situps, and I use a roman chair for working the large muscles on the sides of my spine. That tends to keep my back aligned properly, meaning I don’t have much pain anymore unless I do something really serious to it. (The last time was when I stepped off of a curb I didn’t know was there and had my knee locked when I landed). I think the trick of seeing a chiropractor is finding the right one for you. I’d absolutely not go to one without a referral from a friend or doctor since otherwise you could end up with one that isn’t great.

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